it going!! haha nice
you should come hangout
with me on my podcast
during Why Not Fest 8 !!
yep that's basically all i have to say, well
a couple more things,
Hey! Thanks for reading this page & thanks for considering being a guest on Prairie Goth. I want to give you some info on who I am, what this show is, and what our conversation might be like if you do decide to come on the podcast.
I want to apologize in advance for being long-winded; I actually hate talking about myself or my projects but I feel like — if you’re going to come on the show & let me ask you a bunch of stuff about you — then I feel like I owe you some info on my end first.
Alright let’s do this!
So who the heck are you, Nora?
I’m a musician, audio engineer, poet, visual artist, atheist vegan non-op transgirl, etc. etc., living with one foot in the closet in my bummer hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota. I make lo-fi punk & other weird trash as Nora and the Janitors; I put out a new ambient/free improv release every Friday as Citizen Scientist. If you want to hear a quick overview of some of the music I’ve made, there’s a Spotify playlist for that.
I’ve been a drummer since I was ten, going to local punk shows as just a lil kid. I used to tour & drum in a bunch of bands (e.g. Vanity Plate, the Juniper Drive, a handful of others) but I quit everything in 2016 in order to focus on my own projects, including this podcast, as well as my job at a local recording studio. I’ve worked at this studio since 2007, when I was fifteen and my papa — who’s a co-owner — got me a job as the janitor. Nowadays, in addition to cleaning the toilets, I make spreadsheets, ship packages, build websites, digitize analog media, do graphic design and run recording sessions. I once recorded Waka Flocka Flame at 3 AM!! This job is the reason I still live in North Dakota, as much as I am desperate to leave.
I studied for three semesters at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis — mostly poetry, music, French and, uh, rock climbing — until I couldn’t handle city life or my debt load anymore and moved home. My soul kind of broke from the meaninglessness of it all. Later, I studied choral music for a year at a community college in Bismarck. There are very few things in my life that I’m proud of, but dropping out of college twice is one of them.
In 2011, I tried to escape my obsession with music. I realized, after a year or two, what a terrible decision that was. Now I spend most of my time trying to learn how to not suck at it.
My opinion: Joanna Newsom’s Ys is the best album ever made. The rest of my top five, in no particular order: Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock, Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, Hella’s Hold Your Horse Is, Charles Mingus’ The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.
What’s the deal with Prairie Goth?
After seriously about six years of planning & scheming, I started this show in early 2016 as an excuse to chase my curiosity. There are so many things I would like to know about people and about the universe, but I’m not the kind of person who will go up to someone and ask a bunch of questions. I need some sort of structure — some reason — to interrupt people and be inquisitive. Otherwise, I feel like I’m imposing and wasting people’s time.
Recently, I heard an introduction to an early episode where I called Prairie Goth “my last ditch effort to connect with humanity”, which is still about right.
The format of the show is essentially another Marc Maron rip-off: a couple people sitting in a room talking about life, what they do and why. You can find the show pretty much wherever you can listen to other podcasts and also here on the website. If you want to hear the show, here’s a few episodes that might be good places to start.
Cera Pignet is a visual artist living Minot. We talk about her art studies & craft, what it’s like to live in ND, drugs, death and her gross job cleaning cars. This episode’s a good example of the wide-ranging one-on-one conversations I love having.
Grace Clark is a photographer from Minnesota/Idaho/Florida. This interview took place right before she went to live on the road in a teardrop camper that she built herself. Having this conversation with Grace was awesome because I hardly knew her, and she serendipitously happened to be coming through Bismarck the day after I contacted her.
This shit was wild because it was me and all six members of Vanity Plate and the Juniper Drive in a room together, talking about their tour that they were just wrapping up. I won’t have the technical ability to talk with more than just a couple people at a time during Why Not Fest, but I love hearing people’s tour stories.
Who do you want to talk to?
Depending on who’s reading this, this may not be applicable to you — like if you’re the only person in your band — but you might be wondering who from your band I want to talk to. I want your input on this. My instinct is to talk to songwriters or whoever’s doing most of the composition, but many bands write their songs together; and anyway, your songwriter might not want to talk to me, while your bassist might be super stoked to do the show. I’m flexible and happy to do whatever you think is best. If a couple different people from your band want to come on, we can probably have you both at once, or do two one-on-one conversations that are a little bit shorter. I will say that one-on-one episodes are usually my preference.
Is the show edited?
Yeah! I spend about four hours editing every episode, but I keep the recording linear and rarely cut much out or move anything around. I cut out things like ums and uhs (sometimes), while trying to keep everything natural sounding. But this means that if you say something you didn't mean to or if you want to restate what you just said, and you let me know during the recording, we can usually fix it. I can’t give you any editorial discretion on the final cut of the episode.
When will the episode come out?
I’m hoping to tape ten to fifteen interviews over the Why Not weekend and my goal is to release them between August 2017 and July 2018, publishing one or two a month. Fifteen interviews will mean at least 60 hours of post-production, so getting everything prepped will take a while. (It also means that we have to be careful about talking in the present moment, because the audience will be hearing it in the future.) One potentially positive aspect of this for you, though: If you have a new album release, or what have you, coming in say, February 2018, I would be happy to plan on publishing your episode near your release date. You’ll get an extra press boost and I’ll be able to announce your new release.
How long do you want to talk?
Between forty-five minutes and an hour and a half is best. If you can only do fifteen minutes or a half hour, let me know and we’ll work something out!
Where are we recording?
We’ll do the classic journalist/reporter thing and talk in a hotel room. That way, we won’t have distractions and I’ll be able to have (at least some) control over the sound of our environment. If hanging out in a hotel room with someone you’ve never met before sounds weird, please feel free to bring one person with you to chill in the background, off-mic. But please bring your loner bandmate who loves to sit in the corner and quietly read ;) or something.
When do you want to talk?
If you want to come on the show, please let me know your schedule as soon as possible; and if you can, please give me two or three times that might work for you in case other folks’ schedules are more prohibitive. That way, it won't have to be straight up first-come-first-serve ya know? Hopefully we can work out most/all scheduling conflicts.
Scheduling all of this is going to be a challenge, I think. I’m going to ask that you pick an odd-numbered hour as a start time. From there, I’ll block off two-hour windows for each interview. If this doesn’t quite work for any reason, we’ll figure it out.
Note: biiiig frickin bonus points to anyone who wants to record at 9 am, also to anyone who wants to record on Sunday.
Friday, August 11th
I’ll be ready to start recording at 5 PM on Friday, so we can do:
- 5 to 7
- 7 to 9
- 9 to 10:30. I perform at 62 Doors at 11:30 and will need some prep time!
Saturday & Sunday, August 12th & 13th
- Pick any odd-numbered start time between 9 AM and 9 PM. (Including the 9 PM to 11 PM block.)
Monday, August 14th
- I think my check-out time will be noon on Monday, so if you happen to still be around and want to talk at 9 AM, let’s do it!
What do you want to talk about?
Anything and everything. What I want to talk about most is you and what you’re interested in. Like I said earlier, I’m here because I’m curious and I want to make connections with people. The list of conversation topics is endless, but here’s some examples I’ll throw out there.
- I want to know a little of your backstory: Where you grew up, a little about your family life, basic biography stuff. What did you do when you were a kid? What were you into? When did the art/music bug get you? I’m curious about what made you who you are.
- Your craft. What is the process of making art — writing a song, playing an instrument, recording music — like for you?
- I love traveling. Going on tour can be wonderful bliss and also a dangerous shitshow. Tour stories are great, whether they’re crazy situations or just about heavy emotions on the road.
- Existential crises. My whole damn life has been an existential crisis, so if you want to talk about the meaning(lessness) of life, let’s do it. I love talking about death and fear and atheism — and religion, too. I’ve never been inclined towards faith, but I think religion is really interesting and beautiful and if that’s you, I have huge respect for you. I’m curious about all of it!
- Values, morals and politics. I don’t want to talk about current events too much (esp. national), since there’s a good chance everything will change drastically by the time your episode airs (impeachment!??? A girl can dream…), but whether you’re actively working to incorporate activism into your life or just considering what the best way to live your values is, I would love to talk about it. I’m very much a center-lefty but again, I’m curious about everything.
Really, any story you have or anything you want to talk about, I’m game for. At the same time, don’t feel like you need to be prepared. The best thing you can do is wing it, seriously. The burden of preparation is on me, not you!
I don’t think we can underestimate the value of talking about our experiences of bigotry, abuse, addiction, grief or any other raw & sensitive emotions. So to be clear: I want to make you feel safe to talk about whatever you want to with me — and to use Prairie Goth as a platform as such — but at the same time, you don’t owe me or the audience anything and you can always decline to answer anything I ask you.
I’ve deliberated a bunch about saying this next thing or not, so let me tell you the reason I want to: If you’ve got some heavy shit you want to talk about, I want you to know that I’m open to going there with you; so here’s a few things from my life that I might not be comfortable per se to talk about, but I’m open to talking about them; the reason I’m saying this isn’t to encourage conversation about any of these specific things, but to share them with you because maybe some of our experiences line up. If they do and we talk about it, that’s great, but let me reiterate that I love light-hearted conversations just as much as I love heavy ones.
Okay so. Struggling as a transgender person is probably the first thing to bring up. This has made me feel alienated and excluded my whole life, especially in this conservative state, and the cosmic injustice of only having one life and having that one life be spent imprisoned in a male body is often unbearable. Misogyny and internalized transmisogyny have kinda fucked me up, and I don’t think it was until the last few years that everything really started to click and I could begin to embrace myself. All I can say is thank god for feminism.
I’ve had two deaths in my life that will affect me forever. When I was 15, my brother — my only sibling — died a few days after my birthday. He was 22, finishing up his last year of university. He got the flu and his diabetes killed him. My gay brother who kept himself closeted from me, even though he wanted to tell me; my parents asked him to keep it a secret from me since they thought I would react badly to it. Now it’s a conversation I will forever long for. His death made me feel like I have no one to go through life with me. And I was so sure I would die by the time I turned 22. I hate that I’m now older than he ever was. My big brother became my little brother.
Sidenote: I have a certain amount of undiagnosed depression and anxiety, and some of this shit is the root cause, at least in part.
The other death was a girlfriend of mine who only lived in North Dakota for a short period of time while I was eighteen. She died last October from a drug overdose. The album art of my most recent album is a selfie of me at my kitchen table, listening to Rilo Kiley because that’s what I was listening to when I knew her, bawling my eyes out at 3 AM the night after she died. I used that selfie for album art because I’m a terrible garbage person and the world is so so sad.
This one is horrible and until a few months ago, I didn’t even let myself accept the fact that it had happened to me, but when I was a child I experienced covert sexual abuse — meaning physical, but not really physical contact — from someone outside of my family who was about eight years older than me. I don’t know how to talk about this but there you go. The shame that the abuse left me with has been with me all my life in ways I’m only now starting to understand. I hate hate hate abuse — any and all types of abuse — and I don’t think the problem in our society will begin to be solved unless people talk about it.
So that’s some of my shit.
Thanks for reading all of this. I hope to hear from you soon! Please let me know if you have any questions.
If you have any questions about me that you want to ask someone else, like vetting me to check and make sure I’m not a freakazoid, please feel free. The Why Not staff are a good place to start.
Ok thanks & much love,
16 July 2017